Archive for September, 2011

Choclatique, The Book

Friday, September 16th, 2011
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

When the doorbell rang the delivery I’d been expecting finally arrived—seventeen cases of books. Now these weren’t just any books… these were the new Choclatique dessert books that I started writing more than three years ago.

Choclatique by Ed EngoronWow! As I ripped open the first box I found the beautiful, embossed and foil-stamped cover depicting a balloon whisk with a mixture of satiny melted chocolate dripping from the bail. It was so realistic, I thought I could smell the aroma permeating from the pages within. I was poised to take a lick when our logistics manager, Dave, came in and told me he had the first order for the book. This is exciting stuff for a guy who hasn’t written a cookbook since he penned Stolen Secrets back in the late 1970s.

This is no ordinary cookbook. Like others, it has recipes, of course—over 150 to be exact—all using an easy to make ganache that makes professional looking and tasting, scrumptious desserts. Also, like many other cookbooks there are beautiful pictures. The food photo images were shot by the talented Jason Varney. The only thing that I requested was that the pictures not look too polished… I didn’t want to scare away a less confident reader from trying out the recipes.

Here is how the book differs from other ordinary cookbooks. The book is based on five basic ganache recipes that you can mix and match to result in over 640 recipes and variations from the basic written text.

This book is also an adventure… it captures just 12 of a lifetime of stories of my travels to over 130 countries from the Amazon to the Serengeti in search of the best chocolate the world has to offer.

The book is sprinkled with QR (Quick Response) Codes…those funny little Rorschach squares you see popping up seemingly everywhere these days. When scanned by a smart phone they take you to a video of the ChefSecret that is at the end of many of the recipes. This is the first time that this technology has been available to be used in the publishing of a cookbook.

And, lastly and most important, the recipes make luscious tasting desserts perfectly for the first time and every time there after. It is a foolproof guide to making all of your favorite desserts.

Each recipe in Choclatique has been tested in the Choclatique Chocolate Studios at least five times. I have 25 pounds of extra weight to prove it. Five different artisans made each dessert to prove their accuracy and language.

The copy was proofed by an army of people. I wrote the original copy sending it on to my partner, Joan Vieweger, who then sent it back to me with corrections. The manuscript (MS) then when to Dave who checked it for spelling and grammar errors against the original copy. Mary Goodbody, author of over 60 books, then read the MS for continuity of style. Each time the book passed through different hands it was sent back to me with changes that I either excepted or rejected. When I felt it was ready, it was then forwarded to our publisher, Running Press, and our “super editor” Geoff Stone who parceled it out to a copy editor for the Adventures and a recipe editor for, you guessed it, the recipes. The MS was then completely reviewed one last time by Geoff, Mary, Joan and finally me. I must admit each time the MS was reviewed and corrected it made it a better read.

The original MS had over 250 recipes and nearly three dozen adventure stories. Nearly half have had to be put aside in order to keep to the original 300 page format. But I am one of those writers who believes that every word and recipe is a pearl so they won’t be in digital suspense for long; they will be the basis for my next book—maybe we’ll name it The Rest of Choclatique.

As I write this installment of the Choclatique blog, I am off on the first of many weeks of book tour/promotion. First stop, Charleston, South Carolina and an appearance on Lowcountry Live!

Watch for ChocolateDoctor sightings (that’s me) in your area and on A Million Cooks and be sure to check out Choclatique, the book, found in bookstores around the world, Amazon, Walmart, Target and of course our remodeled website at Choclatique.com.

As always I wish you sweet dreams and chocolate wishes!

CHOCLATIQUE by Ed Engoron ––––––––––––––– Full-Color Throughout 256 pages • 8 x 10 $27.00 /$31.50 CAN /£14.99 UK ISBN 978-0-7624-3964-5 • hc Available on the Choclatique Website and Book Stores, September, 2011

CHOCLATIQUE by Ed Engoron
Full-Color Throughout 256 pages • 8 x 10 $27.00 /$31.50 CAN /£14.99 UK ISBN 978-0-7624-3964-5 • hc Available on the Choclatique Website and Book Stores, September, 2011

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CHOCOLATE: The Psychoactive Cocktail

Friday, September 9th, 2011
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

Choclatique by Ed EngoronLast week I shared with you many of the facts and myths, past and present, about everything chocolate. These were carefully researched during the exploration phase of writing my new book Choclatique (Running Press, 2011). Hopefully you’ve already had a chance to impress many of your friends with the facts that could win you big money when playing Trivial Pursuit.

As noted last week, there are more than 300 different constituent compounds in chocolate that have been identified. Chocolate clearly delivers far more than a brief sugar high. Yet its cocktail of psychochemical effects on the central nervous system are poorly understood.

So how does it work?

  • Chocolate contains small quantities of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid found in the brain. Skeptics claim one would need to consume several pounds of chocolate to gain any very noticeable psychoactive effects; and eat a lot more to get fully stoned. Yet it’s worth noting that N-oleolethanolamine and N-linoleoylethanolamine, two structural cousins of anandamide present in chocolate, both inhibit the metabolism of anandamide. It has been speculated that they promote and prolong the feeling of well-being induced by anandamide.
  • Chocolate contains caffeine. But the caffeine is present only in modest quantities. It is easily obtained from other sources. Indeed a whole ounce of milk chocolate contains no more caffeine than a typical cup of “decaffeinated” coffee.

Chocolate’s theobromine content may contribute to—but seems unlikely to determine—its subtle but distinctive psychoactive profile. Surprisingly, perhaps, recent research suggests that pure theobromine may be superior to opiates as a cough medicine due to its action on the vagus nerve.

  • Chocolate also contains tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid. It is the rate-limiting step in the production of the mood-modulating neurotransmitter serotonin. Enhanced serotonin function typically diminishes anxiety. Yet tryptophan can normally be obtained from other sources as well; and only an unusually low-protein, high-carbohydrate meal will significantly increase its rate of intake into the brain.
  • Love CollectionLike other palatable sweet foods, consumption of chocolate triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s endogenous opiates. Enhanced endorphin-release reduces the chocolate-eater’s sensitivity to pain. Endorphins probably contribute to the warm inner glow induced in susceptible chocoholics. This sensation explains why chocolate gifts are a great way to bring joy to a loved one.
  • Acute monthly cravings for chocolate amongst pre-menstrual women may be partly explained by its rich magnesium content. Magnesium deficiency exacerbates PMT. Before menstruation, too, levels of the hormone progesterone are high. Progesterone promotes fat storage, preventing its use as fuel; elevated pre-menstrual levels of progesterone may cause a periodic craving for fatty foods. One study reported that 91% of chocolate-cravings associated with the menstrual cycle occurred between ovulation and the start of menstruation. Chocolate cravings are admitted by 15% of men and around 40% of women. Cravings are usually most intense in the late afternoon and early evening.
  • Cacao and chocolate bars contain a group of neuroactive alkaloids known as tetrahydro-beta-carbolines. Tetrahydro-beta-carbolines are also found in beer, wine and liquor; they have been linked to alcoholism. But the possible role of these chemicals in chocolate addiction remains unclear.
  • A UK study of the human electroencephalographic (EEG) response to chocolate suggests that the odor of chocolate significantly reduces theta activity in the brain. Reduced theta activity is associated with enhanced relaxation.
  • Perhaps chocolate’s key ingredient is its phenylethylamine (PEA) “love-chemical.” Yet the role of the “chocolate amphetamine” is disputed. Most, if not all chocolate-derived phenylethylamine is metabolised before it reaches the CNS. Some people may be sensitive to its effects in very small quantities.
  • Phenylethylamine is itself a naturally occurring trace amine in the brain. Phenylethylamine releases dopamine in the mesolimbic pleasure-centers; it peaks during orgasm. Taken in unnaturally high doses, phenylethylamine can produce stereotyped behavior more prominently even than amphetamine. Phenylethylamine has distinct binding sites but no specific neurons. It helps mediate feelings of attraction, excitement, giddiness, apprehension and euphoria; but confusingly, phenylethylamine has also been described as an endogenous anxiogen. One of its metabolites is unusually high in subjects with paranoid schizophrenia.
  • There is even a phenylethylamine theory of depression. Monoamine oxidase type-B has been described as phenylethylaminase; and taking a selective MAO-B inhibitor, such as selegiline (l-deprenyl, Eldepryl) or rasagiline (Azilect) can accentuate chocolate’s effects. Some subjects report that bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban) reduces their chocolate-cravings; but other chocoholics dispute this.

I hope you took good notes and got all because there’s going to be a pop quiz next period. You didn’t get all? Then there’s only one solution. Take if from the doctor—The ChocolateDoctor—take two truffles and call me in the morning.

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In Trivial Pursuit Of Chocolate

Friday, September 2nd, 2011
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

In writing my new book, Choclatique (Running Press, 2011), a lot of exploration went into searching out the facts and myths, past and present, about everything chocolate. I traveled to over one hundred, thirty countries to uncover all of the hidden secrets about chocolate. Since I was limited to only three hundred pages a lot of good research went on to the editor’s floor. That’s the great part about writing a weekly blog and doing a FoodCast on A Million Cooks, nothing ever goes to waste.

I always choose the chocolate category when playing Trivial Pursuit and I always win. So here’s a chance to improve your Chocolate IQ. Let me share with you the little know and uncelebrated facts that will make you a winner, too.

  • Chocolate is a psychoactive food. If it wasn’t an ancient food, it would probably be regulated or rationed by the US FDA.
  • Chocolate is made from the seeds of the tropical cacao tree, Theobroma cacao. The cacao tree was named by the 17th century Swedish naturalist, Linnaeus. The Greek term theobroma means literally “food of the gods.” Chocolate has also been called the food of the devil; but the theological basis of this claim is obscure unless you’re addicted to Devil’s Food Cake.
  • Cacao beans were used by the ancient Aztecs to prepare a hot, frothy beverage with stimulant and restorative properties. Chocolate itself was reserved for warriors, nobility and priests. The Aztecs esteemed its reputed ability to confer wisdom and vitality. Taken fermented as a drink, chocolate was also used in religious ceremonies. The sacred concoction was associated with Xochiquetzal, the goddess of fertility. Emperor Montezuma allegedly drank fifty goblets a day.
  • Aztec taxation was levied in cacao beans. One hundred cacao beans could buy a slave. Twelve cacao beans bought the services of courtesan. I wish I could pay my taxes and bills. If our economy doesn’t improve quickly I may have to in Choclatique Chocolate Ingots.
  • The celebrated Italian libertine Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798) took chocolate before bedding his conquests on account of chocolate’s reputation as an aphrodisiac. Who needs Viagra when there’s Choclatique Chocolate?
  • More recently, a study of eight thousand male Harvard graduates showed that chocoholics lived longer than abstainers. Their longevity may be explained by the high polyphenol levels in chocolate. Polyphenols reduce the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins and thereby protect against heart disease. Such theories are still somewhat speculative, but it’s still a good excuse to eat Choclatique Chocolate.
  • Placebo-controlled test trials suggest chocolate consumption may subtly enhance cognitive performance. As reported by Dr Bryan Raudenbush (2006), scores for verbal and visual memory are raised by eating chocolate. Impulse-control and reaction-time are also improved. Send an old person Choclatique Chocolate today… right now… what are you waiting for? Don’t tell me you forgot.
  • A “symposium” at the 2007 American Association for the Advancement of Science—hyped as a potentially “mind-altering experience”—presented evidence that chocolate consumption can be good for the brain. Experiments with chocolate-fed mice suggest that flavanol-rich cocoa stimulates neurovascular activity, enhancing memory and alertness. I think chocolate should be on the Medicare formulary list.
  • Coincidentally or otherwise, many of the world’s oldest super centenarians, e.g. Jeanne Calment (1875-1997) and Sarah Knauss (1880-1999), were passionately fond of chocolate. Jeanne Calment habitually ate two pounds of chocolate per week until her physician induced her to give up sweets at the age of 119 – three years before her death aged 122. Life-extensionists are best advised to eat dark chocolate like Choclatique Q-91 rather than the kinds of calorie-rich confectionery popular in the US.
  • In the UK, chocolate bars laced with cannabis are popular with many victims of multiple sclerosis. This treatment of psychoactive confectionery remains unlicensed. Yeah man, what the hell, it’s cool in California… anything goes.
  • Chocolate as we know it today dates to the inspired addition of triglyceride cocoa butter by Swiss confectioner Rodolphe Lindt in 1879. The advantage of a butter is that its addition to chocolate sets a bar so that it will readily snap and then melt on the tongue. Cocoa butter begins to soften at around 75º F; it melts at around 97º F. I wonder if anyone ever tried to inject it.
  • Today, chocolates of every description are legal, unscheduled and readily available over the counter. Don’t tell Congress they’ll screw this up, too.
  • Some 50% of women reportedly claim to prefer chocolate to sex, though this response may depend on the attributes of the interviewer. Oh, that explains it all.
  • In 2007, a UK study suggested that eating dark chocolate was more rewarding than passionate kissing. More research is needed to replicate this result. I’m waiting, Ladies. I’m still waiting.
  • More than 300 different constituent compounds in chocolate have been identified. Chocolate clearly delivers far more than a brief sugar high. Yet it’s cocktail of psychochemical effects in the central nervous system are poorly understood.

So how does it work? That is the subject of next week exciting Choclatique blog.

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